My copy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Field Guide lists two FLLW buildings for the state of Kansas, the Corbin Educational Center (built as the Juvenile Cultural Center in 1957) and the beautiful Allen-Lambe House.
The Allen-Lambe House was built in 1917. Wright considered it one of his best houses, and it the last of his Prairie Houses to be occupied (by its original owners.) It was commissioned by Henry Allen, a successful newspaper man and single term Governor of Kansas and his wife Elsie Nuzman Allen a socialite and arts activist.
Designs and drawings on the house began in 1915 and the Allens moved in by 1918. They lived there until 1947.
Governor Allen must have been a pretty strong-willed man. He held Wright and the construction crew firm to the original budget of $30,000. (Not something that happened often with Wright’s houses.) The house, which came with a built-in vacuum system and a security system had an additional $6,500 budget for custom furniture. He also got Wright to include two items that the architect notoriously despised, a basement and a garage. Wright thought both promoted clutter.
The Allen-Lambe House is located at 255 North Roosevelt Street, in the northwest portion of Wichita, Kansas. The site is approximately one acre of flat land in a residential neighborhood on a corner lot. The house is a two-story Prairie-style home with a partial basement…. Mr. Wright designed the house in a L-shape for privacy purposes. There is a courtyard on the north side of the main section of the house, which is enclosed by the building on the south and east, by a garden teahouse on the west, and by a brick wall on the north. Even though the house is very open, it is well protected from neighbors by the L-shaped plan and the garden wall that runs parallel to the street. [eakpersectivedesign.weebly.com]
Wright specified the following materials for the construction of the Allen house:
- Oak wood (for the trim)
- Red quarry tile
- Red gum wood
- Copper (for the sinks)
- Clay tile (for the roof — He wanted to
create an Asian feel, as an omage to
the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo he was working on
at the time)
The materials reflected the local landscape. Bringing the outside INSIDE was very much on Wrights mind.
The walls are a gold color, the ceilings are a hazy blue color to make you feel like you are outside, and the ledges underneath the ceilings are a green color, which is suppose to make you feel like you are standing under trees. [eakpersectivedesign.weebly.com
A tile flooring flows from the terrace into the living room and dining room. The only things separating the indoor space from the outdoor space are glass doors.
Views to the exterior are through “light screens” which consist of clear glass doors and windows with terminal windows or side windows framing the views to nature with art glass. Exterior window flower boxes raise the prairie floor up to establish a strong visual relationship to nature. [Onemain.com]
The Allen-Lambe house is open to the public on a limited basis. Tours are by appointment and must be arranged 10 days in advance of your visit. Call 1-316-687-1027 to book a tour. ($10 per guest.) Guest must be 16 years old and up. And each tour must be between 5 and 20 people. Can’t book a tour? Consider a walk by. The exterior is easily seen from the street.
Thanks to my husband, Bill for going out of his way to take all the original photos in this post and feeding my love of all things FLLW.
If you like the Allen-Lambe house you might want to check out another lovely Prairie style home we visited, the Martin House, it is in Buffalo, New York.
- The Oak Park Home And Studio Of Frank Lloyd Wright (marshacannon.org)
- Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture Faces Loss of Accreditation (inhabitat.com)
- Frank Lloyd Wright Pasadena House for Sale (orcadblog.wordpress.com)
- REVISITING UTOPIAS | Broadacre City by Frank Lloyd Wright (hollybaldwin15arc.wordpress.com)
- Frank Lloyd Wright’s final house will be built in an unlikely setting – Somerset (theguardian.com)